PIERCETON — Pierceton Woods, a 52-acre facility built in 2008, has residents living near the center concerned for their own safety. After 17-year-old Dakota Kimbler allegedly escaped from the juvenile detention center Dec. 8, Rick and Debbie Wagner appeared before the Kosciusko County Commissioners to air their concerns, according to an area newspaper.
Kimbler allegedly stowed away in a car in an attempt to hijack the vehicle. When the driver, former Whitley County Sheriff’s Reserve Deputy Johnny Couch, discovered Kimbler was in his backseat, he was shot in the chest. Couch managed to wrestle away the small-caliber handgun from Kimbler and call 911.
Kimbler was detained at the Whitley County Jail.
It was this incident that made Pierceton residents such as the Wagners look for solutions to protect themselves. At the commissioners meeting shortly after the Dec. 8 shooting, the Wagners reportedly told county leaders that “we just want to feel safe in our own homes.”
Mark Terrell, chief executive officer of Lifeline Youth and Family Services, oversees Pierceton Woods Academy and said he recognizes the concerns.
Although the facility is described as having a “detention wing,” the academy offers other avenues of service such as a Behavior Modification Program, Independent Living Phase 1 Program and Step-Down Independent Living Program (for Relapse Prevention). Pierceton Woods caters to boys ages eight to 21.
On its website, area business men and women as well as community leaders and civic activists support Lifeline with statements such as “they are making a difference,” “they walk the walk,” and “I trust the leadership at Lifeline.” Terrell said the Pierceton program is not without its own high praise.
Some changes are in store for the academy. However, fences and prison-like security measures are not likely on the list. Whatever measures are taken at the facility, Lifeline will move to make the Pierceton program one that continues to promote its mission – “Lasting change starts here.”
For more information on all the programs and services available through Lifeline Youth and Family Services, visit www.lifelineyouth.org .
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